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R. G. Turner "Richard Turner" (Desborough)

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Boy in the Blitz: The 1940 Diary of Colin Perry
Boy in the Blitz: The 1940 Diary of Colin Perry
by Colin Perry
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but somewhat unsettling., 11 Mar. 2013
I was given this book as a present as I am familiar with many of the areas of South London/North Surrey in which the action takes place.

It provides a very clear insight as to what it was like to live in the area during the Blitz. I was born in 1941 and recall the bomb sites that were still around as I grew up. Having heard my parents describe their experience of living through the bombardment, it was good to have a different perspective from an outsider.

As I read it, I struggled to understand the writer's perspectives on the War, his fellow citizens and the girls that he knew and hoped eventually to marry.

He was reluctant to take shelter during the bombardment and appeared to view those who sheltered with scorn. He enjoyed watching the raids. I can understand this when the raids began and were a novelty but as weeks and months progressed, his interest was maintained for much longer than one would expect. His attitudes to the girls that he knew are very idiosyncratic.

I kept asking myself whether I was being unfair judging him by the mores on the 21st century. I am not sure of the answer to this question, but am conscious that it would make a good read better still if I could find myself more in sympathy with the author of these very personal diaries.

The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England (Yale Nota Bene)
The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England (Yale Nota Bene)
by Amanda Vickery
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing., 15 Mar. 2011
I bought this book after watching the author's TV series, screened at the end of 2010. I found that the pleasure that I experienced from her TV series was not matched by this book.

Much of my reading in retirement has been of history books which clearly have been written and published for a general audience, and I believe that this book would have been more enjoyable if it had been more clearly aimed at the general reader.

The focus of the content on the lives of gentlewomen in East Lancashire did not work for me. I felt at the end of the book that I should have felt an attachmnet to the principal characters, but, in part because of the way in which the narrative was structured,this was not there when I finished the book.

Other reviewers have already commented on the small font size and the chapter lengths which make this book a difficult read. I would also add that the quality of the images printed within the text was very poor in my copy.They were so dark that as I read the text I tended to ignore them.

Having said what I did not like about this book, I should say that at the end I did feel that I had an understanding of the way in which this particular group of women lived their lives and understood more about the very active part that they played in society.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 26, 2011 3:19 PM BST

A History of Denmark (Palgrave Essential Histories Series)
A History of Denmark (Palgrave Essential Histories Series)
by Knud J.V. Jespersen
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why Danes are different., 26 Jan. 2011
I am a frequent visitor to Denmark. My son has lived and worked there since 1989 and I have two grandchildren born there. Over the years I have come to realise that that the Danes as a people are very different from those of us who live and were born in England, and I bought this book to learn more about Danish history and to understand what makes them so different from us.

It is probably unreasonable to expect a book of this length (216 pages of text) to provide a comprehensive history, but I would have liked a broad brush approach, rather than the topic based approach that Mr. Jespersen uses.

I am sure that Mr. Jespersen's approach is suitable for a Danish audience, who may already have an understanding of the chronology of Danish history. The translation of this book into English has made it available to international readers, who, if I am typical, no little about Danish history, and its dramatis personae. The chronology is inserted in this book between the references and the index. It needs to be at the front.

Popular understanding of history in England is to an extent based on the personalities of our monarchs and leaders. We cannot separate the personality traits of Henry VIII from the foundation of the Church of England. Where would our understanding of 19th century history be without Queen Victoria? I would have enjoyed a more personal approach. I would have appreciated learning more about Christian IV and other monarchs and leaders.

There were two topics, not covered, which I think would have thrown light on the country and its people. The first is the Danish experience in the 1939 - 1945 war. Danish friends talk about this with difficulty. The second is to discuss living in what appears to be a bi-lingual society; Danish the mother tongue, and English the lingua franca.

Although I was dissatisfied with the historical content of this book and the way it was covered, when I finished reading it, I understood why Danes are different from we English. I could draw the conclusion that although we are both democratic Christian states, the social and political history and the institutions of Denmark are so different from ours that to be Danish you must be born and brought up in Denmark. To be English you must be born and brought up in England.

The Real Cruel Sea: The Merchant Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic, 1939-1943
The Real Cruel Sea: The Merchant Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic, 1939-1943
by Richard Woodman
Edition: Paperback

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten Heros Recognised, 9 July 2006
This book will appeal to anyone interested in the detail of WW II. The author has meticulously researched the convoys that brought imports and exports to and from our shores, and carried war materials that were essential to maintaining our participation in the war. The allied victory would not have been possible without hard-fought victory in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The Real Cruel Sea focusses on the Merchant Navies of the UK and our allies and is a valuable compliment to other volumes covering the same conflict particularly the two volumes by C.Blair.

Although the subject matter is grim, Richard Woodman's style makes this long book a comfortable read, and despite the fact that the fundamentals of the conflict between convoys and U-boats were largely similar throughout the four years covered by the book, the narrative never becomes repetitious.

The reader is made to realise the incredible levels of stress which must have been day to day reality for the merchant seamen serving in the convoys. The use of the names of the masters of vessels personalises the narratives.

It is therefore unfortunate that the final chapter dwells on the bad behaviour of a small number of merchant seamen when the survival of this country depended on the willingness of seaman to sail into the Atlantic battlefield with its constant threat of sinkings.

In his introduction Richard Woodman is clear that he is not including statistics available elsewhere.

I believe that this is a mistake. Information summarising the details of each convoy and their losses of ships and of manpower would have been useful. The book neccessarily concentrates on those convoys that were targetted by the U-boats. An Idea of the number of convoys that sailed unscathed would enable the reader to better understand the threat to seaman and their vessels.

Most men, still alive, who sailed in convoys are now over eighty years of age. The Real Cruel Sea is a timely tribute to them, and to the memory of those who died.

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